Most operations for carpometacarpal joint osteoarthritis of the thumb irreversibly alter or destroy the anatomy. There is a high demand for minimally invasive alternatives. The authors report the results of autologous fat transfer for treatment of thumb carpometacarpal joint osteoarthritis.
In a prospective study, 50 patients with thumb carpometacarpal joint osteoarthritis were observed for 1 year after autologous fat transfer. Manual liposuction and centrifugation were performed. Pain rating according to visual analogue pain scale; objective force of pinch grip and fist closure; and Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand questionnaire scores before and after treatment were analyzed.
The average pain in stage 2 patients preoperatively was 7.7 ± 1.3; it was 1.8 ± 1.9 after 6 months and 2.4 ± 3.1 after 12 months. Patients with stage 2 osteoarthritis demonstrated a superior benefit from this treatment compared with patients with either stage 3 or stage 4 thumb carpometacarpal joint osteoarthritis. There were similar improvements for the parameters strength and Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand questionnaire score. No serious adverse events were observed.
Autologous fat transplantation is an appealing alternative, especially in early-stage basal joint osteoarthritis of the thumb. The low invasiveness of the procedure and early recovery of patients compared with classical procedures such as trapeziectomy, and the superior long-term results compared with classical injection therapy, make this approach feasible as a first-line therapy in early-stage basal joint osteoarthritis of the thumb.
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